Family of boy who killed considers legal options

The family of a boy involved in a fatal school punch-up with his best friend may take legal action against a Catholic primary school in south-western Victoria.

Australian Associated Press reports that lawyers representing the boy's family yesterday told a coronial inquest the lack of supervision at the school on the day of the death of 11-year-old Nicholas Pelham-Thorman's death raised "serious questions".

Nicholas died of a brain haemorrhage after his friend, who cannot be named, punched him in the library at the Sacred Heart Primary School in Casterton, in the Ballarat Diocese, on 28 November 2003.

The inquest at the Coroner's Court in Hamilton, 300km west of Melbourne, was told the school, that on the day of the fight, did not follow the usual procedure for handling the other boy, who had anger-management problems.

Doug Pulling, a lawyer for Nicholas's family, said teachers had noticed an improvement in the angry boy's behaviour in the months leading up to the fight only because he had been closely supervised. The school usually asked the boy's parents to keep him away if there was going to be a change in routine, Mr Pulling said. But on the afternoon of the fight, the boy's parents were not notified their son's usual teacher would be away.

"Leaving him alone for 40 minutes, I suggest, is a recipe for disaster," he said.

But Chris Blanden, a lawyer for the school, said a teacher had been checking on the boys.

He described the fight as a "school spat" and said the injuries Nicholas received were very uncommon and unpredictable.

No finding should be made against the school, he told the inquest.

Coroner Richard Wright will hand down his findings on a date to be fixed.

Family of boy who killed considers legal options (The Advertiser/Australian Associated Press 9/6/05)

LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
Sacred Heart School, Casterton

Schoolboy 'died after best mate's punch' (The Age 9/6/05)
Fight boy had temper issues (Warrnambook Standard 9/6/05)
Seniors ask bishop to skip their Mass (Associated Press/Concord Monitor 8/6/05)
Not bad, Dad, now let's see you do algebra (Sydney Morning Herald 9/6/05)
Dublin diocese dons wristbands (The Universe 8/6/05)

10 Jun 2005